Book of Judges
The Old Testament abounds in narrative which provides wonderful lessons for the Christian. Take the Patriarchs—they all had experiences as they went on their pilgrimage and we would have fared much the same in similar circumstances, but when the "vail which is upon the heart" or in other words the bondage of the letter which the law engenders, is taken away, and we look at their experiences in the spirit precious indeed are the lessons to ourselves.
The same can be said of Israel as a whole and so it was that Moses who is a type of the Law had to die without going into the Promised Land and thus make way for Joshua who as a type of our Saviour took His people over Jordan.
The passage of Jordan and entry into Canaan we do not interpret as a type of the believer's death and entry into heaven, for when that event comes we do not anticipate having to fight spiritual enemies of which the enemies that came against Israel in the land of Canaan are a type.
Rather can the passage of Jordan be as a type of our death and resurrection with Christ, in spirit, and this being so there is much food for thought in considering the experiences which came to Israel in the Land, the land which the Lord had given to them. For the Lord had said to Joshua "Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan... unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses." (Josh.1.2‑3)
They could not have gone over into the land with Moses their leader, for he was a minister of the Law which minsters death for every transgression and cannot give life. Nevertheless they must have a leader and so God raised up Joshua who is a type of our Saviour in resurrection, and therefore the inheritance in Canaan into which Joshua led the people of Israel gives us a beautiful type of our inheritance in Christ in the heavenly places. All that Israel had to do was to take possession and enjoy the blessings. Did Israel do this, or did they allow their enemies to gain the victory over them? The Book of Judges gives the sad answer. As all Scripture is profitable and given by inspiration of God carrying valuable lessons and admonitions for believers when read in the Spirit.
After Joshua had led the people of Israel into Canaan and subdued much of the land, at a time when he was old and stricken in years the Lord appeared unto him and told him that there remained very much land yet to be possessed. (Josh.13.1) The aged leader gathered the people together and warned them of what was before them, exhorting them to beware of apostasy (Josh.23). He encouraged them too by reminding them that they knew in all their hearts and in all their souls that not one thing had failed of all the good things which the Lord their God spoke concerning them. All had come to pass and not one thing had failed. (Josh.23.14)
Surely this reminds us of a great New Testament counterpart, when another great servant of the Lord, the Apostle Paul gathered the elders of the Ephesian Church together and warned them too of the danger of apostasy—"For I know this", he said, "that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them". (Acts 20.29‑30.)
So it is that after Joshua died the book of Judges tells of the declension and recovery of Israel. Because they did not drive out their enemies from the Land which God gave to them these enemies were allowed to harass them and captivate them, until God raised up Judges to deliver them. Twice in the book we read that "In those days there was no king in Israel and every man did that which was right in his own eyes" and in fact the book closes with this pitiful statement. Nevertheless it says in Judges 2.18 that "when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge." Incidentally, this is one of those key scriptures which may be fraught with hidden meaning in the light of our Lord's future work for mankind. The point to make though is, do we see merely as a historical book recounting various periods of servitude and deliverances or do we look for revealed light.
When our Lord met the two disciples on the Emmaus road and he opened the Scriptures to them it was the things concerning Himself that made their hearts burn. And it is the same with us. All our blessings are in Christ and we can only know of these through the Word of God, where it tells us that they are not on this earth, not in this world, but in the heavenlies, in Christ. So Paul said to the Philippians that he was going on to apprehend that for which he was apprehended in Christ. But this calls for diligence and patient study and meditation on the Word of God together with a measure of suffering. So Paul goes on to say, that he may know Him, and the power of His resurrection—and adding also and the fellowship of His sufferings.
Now as we press on to apprehend more of Christ we find that there are spiritual enemies which would seek to hinder our progress. When Israel turned from God then He allowed their enemies to bring them into bondage and thus prevent them from taking the land and enjoying the fruits thereof, and we suggest that although we are under grace these enemies represent or typify something which is not of God or some form of evil which can be used to bar our progress and thus keep us from the enjoyment of those spiritual blessings which are in the heavenlies.
The Book of Judges records seven apostasies, seven subjections to various nations and seven deliverances although there were thirteen judges raised up to deliver Israel.
Let us now take a look at the first bondage to which Israel was subjected. It was to Chushan‑rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia and they were in bondage eight years. (Jud.3.5‑11)
The meaning of Chushan‑rishathaim is "the blackness of double‑iniquity". He was king of Mesopotamia, or as it is in the Hebrew "Aram", which means "exaltation" and pride and it was out of Mesopotamia that God called Abram, thus showing it to be a type of the world, and here we have Israel coming under the yoke of this king of the very land from which they had been called. Can we not see in him a type of the god and prince of this world Satan who ensnares and deceives by the things of the world, so that we are exhorted to "love not the world neither the things that are in the world."
Compare him with Christ; what a difference. For our Lord was not exalted whilst here on earth, pride had no part with Him, for He was meek and lowly in heart. He emptied Himself, made Himself of no reputation. And from the cradle to the grave with Him it was a case of "Not my will but Thine be done O God."
What a lesson there is here for us. As long as we abide in Christ we experience the secret of all blessing, but should we pay heed to the tempter's subtle snares whereby he seeks to engender pride or exaltation in the flesh then we lose that sense of blessing. Let us not fear if we have little confidence in ourselves for that is a blessed state. Paul tells us so in Phil.3.3 and goes on to show us how his pride of birth or attainments or anything else with the name Paul attached to it he tied up in a bundle and threw on the scrap heap, counting them all refuse in order that he may win Christ, and be found in Him, having His righteousness.
In due course Israel began to feel the burden of bondage to the King of Aram, but when they cried unto the Lord He raised up a deliverer, whose name was Othniel. Who was this man and what was he like?
In the first place his name means "powerful man of God", or "Lion of God" and that in itself is surely not without significance, suggesting a man to be reckoned with. In the first chapter of Judges after the death of Joshua Judah went forth against the Canaanites and they took Kirjath‑arba and renamed it "Hebron" which means communion and that we might say in itself is a good thing to take something belonging to the enemy and change it to communion with God. Then notice that Caleb, who was one of the spies, who believed God and went forth into the promised land with Joshua, promised his daughter Achsah‑and again her name means "Adorned"‑to the one who should go forth and take Kirjath‑sepher. Othniel it was who accepted the challenge, took Kirjath‑sepher and straightaway changed its name to Debir which means "Word of God". Can we say that there is no significance in the proper names in the Bible?
For here is a precious nugget of truth. A powerful man of God takes the City of the book and it becomes The Word of God. That Book in the hands of the enemy is just like any other book, although He can even use it, distort it, take passages out of context and certainly water it down, but when taken out of his hands by a man of God it becomes what it was always meant to be, The Word of God, the Living Word of God, the Book whose words can become as a fire shut up in our bones, as Jeremiah says, the Word that is sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, but at the same time comfort to the weary and the suffering strength to the weak and hope to the hopeless.
And can we spare a thought too for Achsah, with such a name meaning "adorned"? As the bride of the great Deliverer does she not suggest a type of the Bride of Christ? All the blessings she received were given by her father and she would not have had them if the one to whom she was given, the great deliverer had not won her hand by going into battle with the enemy. She was given the South Land and she still desired to be fruitful, so she asked her father to give her springs of water, whereupon he gave her the upper springs and the nether springs, some of the blessings God promised to Israel as a reward for obedience in Deut.8. So also the believer is promised in John 7.38 that "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water". The gift of the Sprit which the believer should receive for it is the Spirit alone that quickens and changes the written Word into the living Word, the Word that vivifies, strengthens, comforts us. (John 7.39)
"He that drinketh of this water", our Lord said to the woman of Samaria "shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life".
So we see what sort of a man Israel's deliverer, this Othniel was. His whole life was centred in God, and his wife, one would think no less so. In spirit he was free from worldly fetters with which the evil king had bound Israel, and as such one whom the Lord could use to effect their deliverance and topple the evil king Chushan from his lordly throne. The lesson is that so long as we lay hold of these things in spirit and enjoy the wonderful inheritance in Christ, the charms and snares of the world will lose their appeal. For it is in Him and in Him alone that we have this particular victory over the enemy and not in many endeavours on our part to deny ourselves for that would merely serve to bring us into greater bondage and a life of legality. A true man of God is one whose heart is filled with His glory, seeking in everything to have the mind of Christ who turns his back on all the empty splendour this world has to offer.
This was the attitude of Paul, who said "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world". (Gal.6.14)
It is one thing, to know that we have been delivered from the world, etc…but it is often another to live in the conscious enjoyment of this
Ehud (Judges 3.12 to 21)
Moab, descended from Lot (Gen.19.37), were some of Israel's bitterest enemies (Deut.23 .3). The Amalekites of whom it was said, "The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation. . ." joined Eglon the King of Moab as well as the Ammonites.
Moab set up his headquarters in the city of Palm trees, which Deut.34.3 tells us is Jericho, at the very entrance to the land, the city which was so difficult to take at the beginning.
In verse 15 it says Ehud a Benjamite, a left‑handed man whose name means "Him that praises", the son of Gera whose name means "combat or disputings" was brought into the conflict. In Ehud's armour was a dagger which had two edges like the Word of God is (Heb.4.12). Then at Gilgal, where twelve stones were taken from river and an altar made after crossing Jordan (Josh.4), where circumcision took place, where the Passover had been celebrated, where the reproach of Egypt had been rolled away (Josh.5.9) and if they had remembered its lessons Israel would never have been subjected to the bondage of Moab. Verse 21 records death of Eglon by the cunning hand and dagger of Ehud who had contrived to be alone with his adversary leaving him dead from a wound in his fat stomach. Eglon's death pictures the death of the flesh. And the land had rest for fourscore years.
The Book of Ruth is a grand contrast, and the events took place during the period of the Judges as Ruth was delivered from all the bondage in the land of Moab by the hand of Naomi and Boaz.
"For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal.6. .8). "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Rom.8.6).